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December 27, 2011

Why the Nokia Luna represents the future of headset design

When the Nokia Luna Bluetooth headset was launched, in October, it received rave reviews. Gizmodo called it a “future perfect pod”. Phone Arena said it was “a headset from another planet”.


So does the daringly different design give us a glimpse of the future of headset or is the Nokia Luna destined to be one of a kind? We talked to Juha Kosonen, Principal Designer of the team that created it, to find out.

The human touch

Only 4% of mobile phone owners have a headset. One reason for the low number is people think wearing a Bluetooth headset looks silly and feels uncomfortable. “The day we came up with the design I met an ear doctor,” Juha says. “He explained that while people’s outer ears are different, the concha, the triangular entrance to the inner ear, is pretty much the same. Afterwards, I interviewed a designer, Jukka Rautiainen, for a job and one of his concepts was a mono headset, which covered the concha. This idea proved to be the basis of Luna. It was a great example of how technology should complement your body. We think human defined, wearable technology is the future.”

Instinctively playful

We’re all kids at heart, and no matter how old we, we all like to play. The Nokia Luna was designed with this in mind. Take the rounded base. “The engineers wanted a flat base to make it stable.” Juha explains. “But it’s not meant to be stable. People spin it and twirl it in their hand. They hold it like a stress toy. You take it with you everywhere.” And it’s not just the form that’s playful.  Coming in five bold colours, the Nokia Luna encourages a playful way of looking at the world. “In different countries different colours are popular. The Chinese are buying lots of the lime green, while Europeans prefer the blue.”

Pure and simple

One thing that first strikes users of the Nokia Luna is its purity of form. It’s rounded edges and smooth holder means it look nothing like a conventional headset. “The volume, for example,  automatically adapts to your environment. How can it be hands free if you need to turn the sound up and down yourself?“ Juha points out. “We aimed to create less distractions, but make a better product that’s easier to get emotionally attached to. Yet it’s so simple to use. It has NFC and Always Ready, which means all you need to do is take it from the cradle and it’s on. This simplicity is very attractive to users”

It’s obvious when you hold the Nokia Luna that Juha and his team applied these principals with real passion. (Even when his work was done, Juha was at the production line on the first day to ensure every detail was perfect). But would the Nokia Luna convert you with its out of the world design and do you think the principals that launched the Luna are set to become the new norm? As ever, we’d love to hear you thoughts in the comments below.